Bellevue College Receives Institutional Diversity Award

Picture of the Campus Diversity Award

In November, Bellevue College received the College Diversity Award at the 23rd Annual Washington State Faculty and Staff of Color Conference (FSOCC). Each year the award recognizes a Washington college that “exemplifies diversity and inclusion initiatives, and ability to embrace a broad definition of diversity on campus, including gender, race, ethnicity, veterans, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBT community.”

Dr. Sayumi Irey, Interim Vice President of the Office of Equity and Pluralism, accepted the award at the ceremony held in Blaine, Washington.

“The FSOCC is a grassroots organization that has had a tremendous impact on campuses by pushing us to move past talking about equity, to making it happen,” said Irey. “It’s very meaningful to see the hard work and commitment of Bellevue College recognized by colleagues across Washington state as an institutional leader.”

Some of the innovative approaches to equity, pluralism and diversity launched by the College include the creation of the Social Justice Leadership Institute and the Diversity Summit. The Social Justice Leadership Institute offers intensive, culturally responsive training, mentoring and networking opportunities to historically disfranchised and underrepresented professionals at academic institutions. It kicks off with a retreat and continues with bimonthly, half-day sessions, culminating with a graduation ceremony at the end of the school year. The goal is to provide skills and connections so that participants are able to move into higher leadership positions.

Dr. Jerry Weber, Dr. Sheila Edwards-Lange, Dr. Sayumi Irey
Dr. Jerry Weber, Dr. Sheila Edwards-Lange, Dr. Sayumi Irey at the 2018 Diversity Summit

While the Leadership Institute is geared for in-depth training to a smaller cohort, the Diversity Summit offers two days of workshops and panel discussions to all Bellevue College staff and faculty at no cost, and outside participants for a small fee. This year’s summit, “It’s time: Disruption for Diversity,” featured a keynote speech from Dr. Sheila Edwards-Lange, President of Seattle Central College. Workshops covered a broad range of topics, like Cultural Responsiveness: Disability and Intersectionality, Intention is not Enough: Understanding and addressing racial microaggressions, and DREAMer/Undocumented Student Workshop.

“It’s important to offer in-depth training for underrepresented professionals so that we expand diversity in academic leadership, as well as low-cost opportunities to broaden the understanding of how equity can work for the benefit of all,” said Irey. “It’s a continuous learning process as we discover new ways to connect and support each other. And students greatly benefit when they can engage with faculty and staff who understand their diverse identities and perspectives.”

More information about Bellevue College’s Office of Equity and Pluralism and its programs can be found at Those interested in participating in the next Social Justice Leadership Institute can apply in April 2019.

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Last Updated December 6, 2018